Norwalk mayor initiated proposal for controversial homeless shelter

Norwalk mayor Luigi Vernola, right.

Norwalk mayor Luigi Vernola, right.

NORWALK -- A controversial proposal to open a winter homeless shelter in Norwalk was initiated by mayor Luigi Vernola, who proposed the idea to Gov. Jerry Brown in a letter last month, the Patriot has learned.

In the letter, dated Oct. 2, Vernola offers use of the former youth correctional facility on Bloomfield Avenue as a winter homeless shelter. The letter implies Vernola is speaking on behalf of the entire City Council. 

“We are proposing the use of the site as part of a Winter Shelter Program, where homeless individuals and families may seek shelter and warmth during the cold, wet weather season,” Vernola wrote. 

“The City seeks your support in gaining access to the property for this purpose,” Vernola added. 

Last week, L.A. County announced it would indeed seek to open a homeless shelter at the facility, located at 13200 Bloomfield Avenue. 

The City Council was scheduled to discuss the issue at its regular meeting Nov. 7 but postponed the item. Vernola did not attend a community forum at Moffitt Elementary on Tuesday night, where the shelter was a popular topic of conversation. 

Residents have reported seeing large trucks coming and going from the shelter location, despite no official action yet from the Norwalk City Council. 

In a brief interview Wednesday, Vernola said he wrote the letter only to solicit a response from the governor and insisted he is opposed to a winter homeless shelter at the former California Youth Authority facility.

“I don’t want the homeless shelter over at the CYA, period,” he said.

Vernola also claimed he missed Tuesday’s forum due to complications from diabetes.

Read Vernola's letter in its entirety below: 

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